expressive worship

It’s Not a Stage, It’s a PLATFORM!

“We don’t entertain, we worship.” That’s the main resistance we get from worship artists and worship teams about Tom Jackson’s Live Music Method.

This is a pretty common concern — and valid. When it comes to worship, we don’t treat that “audience/venue” the same as a band out doing shows and entertaining an audience. But leading worship is still about communicating with people, and some of the same skills apply.

A comment came in on one of my blogs, from Dale, who leads worship at his church. He understands how Tom’s Live Music Method works for performing bands, and he understands that these things can be applied to worship teams. But his bandmates aren’t catching the vision. [Read more...]

Too Good for This?

I was ready for two days of work with a band in Baltimore.

I wondered how it would go, because they’re great musicians and have always been told this. Typically musicians of this caliber would say, “We’re good enough, we don’t need any of that Tom Jackson stuff!”

But to their credit, someone in the band realized their show was still lacking, after hearing Tom speak. They saw the value in getting some help, ordered Tom’s videos, watched them together, then got on the phone and asked me to come up and do some one-on-one sessions.

I don’t think I’ve ever worked with a group more receptive to what I brought to the table! [Read more...]

Your Freedom is My Distraction

Worship leader Janna Pastin, Nashville TN

I’ve had a beef the last several years with an issue that seems to be getting worse: “over exposure”. And I’m not talking about the sun.

Maybe it’s just me getting older and each generation has thought this way, but I’m seeing more and more skin on women all the time, and it’s too much – especially in church.

For certain cultures or situations, showing a little skin is not an issue, but when it comes to being on the platform in front of a congregation, it’s a problem!

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a prude. I like to be as fashionable as the next girl. But wearing clothes that are too tight, too low-cut, or too short can be a definite distraction for people trying to engage in worship.

Just like we’d tell singers and players that constantly moving your leg to the beat, or any number of other things is a distraction, your clothing – or lack thereof – can be a distraction.

You can be hip and trendy without being overexposed. Sometimes it takes a little more creativity, but it can be done without turning you frumpy. No one wants to see cleavage when they are trying to worship.

Our worship leader had to set some guidelines for the women on the team, as there were some questionable choices being made from time to time… for example, no leggings without your top covering the crotch area. Cuz seriously, guys have enough trouble keeping their imaginations in check without giving them any help!

In addressing the skirt length issue, she referred us to our congregation’s beloved 80-yr-old Pastor Buck. She said, “Pretend you are standing on your kitchen table, and Pastor Buck is sitting a few feet away. Do you feel okay with what you have on?” Point taken.

Worship leader Leann Albrecht has lots more to say on this. Check out her article ‘The Fine Line of Fashion – Sensuous or Virtuous’…

Worship Set Week-to-Week

I’ve been talking recently with “Worship Leader Jay” about dealing with the simple ‘how-to’ of putting together your worship set and your team. You can check out some of what I learned from Jay in these blogs: Baby Steps and The Freedom to Disappoint

Now I want to share some of the things working for him since taking over as a new worship leader a few years ago:

The number of singers you have on your team is probably going to be determined by the style of music you do week to week, or perhaps the number of singers available. Smaller churches may have only a handful of singers to use, and larger churches – in order to get more people involved – use a rotation system so all get a chance to sing once a month or so. [Read more...]

Passion Sells

This title might seem crass and cheap at first glance, but let me explain. I was on a flight home from working with a speaker who is just beginning a tour in which she delivers five, 5-7 minutes talks to arenas filled with Jr. High kids. An audience NOT for the faint of heart, I might add!

We had spent 2 days together, weeks before the tour, crafting the talks she’d written, getting the right words and thoughts together, finding the best scripture translations, and worked on her storytelling. Since this girl is just 15, what she was saying needed to sound like how someone that age would say it, as opposed to how an adult would.

We also had to think about her audience and make sure what she was saying made sense and was relevant to how a Jr. High mind thinks as well. [Read more...]

My Heart Was Right

In my recent blog Freedom to Disappoint, I wrote about how it’s pretty impossible to keep everyone in one church happy. If you try to do this, I’m sure you’ll go insane.

Jim wrote in after reading that blog, saying how he cleared the stage one Sunday for a pared down acoustic-type set, and had sent an email to leadership letting them know what he was going to do.

Well, he got jumped by the sound guy, who was taught that no one messes with the sound board or stage between services, and ended up in a meeting with him and the pastor over it. Jim also stated he ‘disappointed’ people because the things he said and the way he expressed himself from the platform was too ‘polished’. [Read more...]

The Freedom to Disappoint

My recent blog ‘Baby Steps’ looked at the role a worship leader at a new church, and what it takes to integrate new ideas into an old mindset. My friend ‘Jay’ helped me out by sharing his experience.

Since Jay was going into a traditional church making the move to a more contemporary music style, he had to be careful about not making changes too quickly or abruptly and took time to learn the songs the team was already doing.

Obviously change isn’t easy for most people and will typically be met with opposition. His first Sunday there, he got complaints about [Read more...]

Baby Steps

Recently I posted a blog  (‘I’m a Worship Leader – Help!’) which addressed the unique issues that come along with becoming a new or transplanted worship leader.

I wanted to continue this discussion a bit, so I got on the phone with my friend Jay who took on that role at a new church a few years ago.

He was excited about this new position and had ideas for lots of change, but knew he would need to take baby steps. [Read more...]

All Because I Wanted Their Picture

I remember the feeling. Too amazing for words really.

Our band was invited to play in Sao Paulo, Brazil at a huge festival. The driver threaded his way from our hotel past scores of buses that lined the streets for miles leading up to and around the soccer stadium.

People had come from all across Brazil for this 2-day event. Arriving near the venue, we were then led through what seemed liked miles of underground rooms and tunnels. Finally we climbed a stairway that opened up to the bright lights of the huge stadium.

In front of us were 110,000 people. Word was that there were another 10,000 not able to get inside. My heart raced – half adrenaline, half fear. How was I going to get through this? Your mind tells you that you just have to go out there and do what you always do. [Read more...]

I’m a Worship Leader… Help!!

A church has asked you to take over as worship leader. Congratulations! But now what? If you’re new to this world, you’re probably quaking in your boots, and feeling suddenly inadequate in every way.

You’ll be working with a group of musicians and singers – volunteers – some of which will be talented, and some not very talented at all. What now??

Well, let’s take one thing at a time. [Read more...]